I will be graduating with a degree in Software Engineering. I have a 4.0 GPA at this institution (not counting the 3.85 GPA I transferred in with). The institution is awarding me Outstanding Scholar for my degree program/campus/year.

I am seriously considering not walking in graduation. Being on stage in front of people is not my definition of celebration, and I am not a fan of tradition unless there is a logical reason behind it. (I'm an INTJ personality type.)

For the outstanding scholar award, they will be giving me a certificate and honor cords at an awards banquet that is before graduation. Does that imply they expect me to walk? Is it an insult to not do so when they are giving me an award?

Actual diplomas will be mailed sometime after the ceremony in the summer. The ceremony doesn't cost anything to be a part of (other than the cost of getting a degree :). There are about 20 people graduating this year in my major. I have a sister graduating the same day in a city 8 hours away (and only an hour from home), so most parents/relatives will be at the other graduation anyway. As an alternative to the ceremony, I am thinking of writing thank you cards to the teachers and mentors who were influential in helping me get to this point.

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    Is there some technical (or American) meaning of the word “walk” that would be helpful for context here? I think I can figure out the meaning from context, but I haven't encountered this use of “walk” before. Commented May 29, 2017 at 10:59
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    @ShreevatsaR we say someone "walks" to mean that they —literally— walk across the stage at the graduation ceremony, during which time their name is announced and they receive their diploma from the dean or chancellor or other important university figure. For PhDs, you'll also hear the term "to be hooded", because when you "walk", both your name and your dissertation director's name is called, and they then place the doctoral hoods on you before you walk across the stage to get the (as JeffE said, blank) diploma. Commented May 29, 2017 at 14:04
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    I find the grand irony of graduating in absentia while purportedly "bucking tradition" to be extremely pleasing. A hearty har-har to you, good Sir. Commented May 30, 2017 at 22:15
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    I would like to say that whether or not you end up going to the graduation ceremony, those thank-you cards are a great idea. As a rule, faculty are always delighted to hear that they've made a difference for a student.
    – zwol
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 23:18
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    I'm ISTJ and I also hate graduation ceremonies and the like! Go I*TJs!
    – user51076
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 13:26

11 Answers 11


If attending a graduation ceremony is not your cup of tea, you don't need to go. Better to stay away than to go and be uncomfortable!

It would be considerate to let your department know that you won't be attending. Some universities make more of a thing of graduation than others, so depending on the vibes at your school, you might want to have some travel plans that conflict with graduation day.

By the way, congrats!

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    "It would be considerate to let your department know that you won't be attending. " <-- Absolutely And you may be able to determine from the reaction whether or not it will make a difference for your relationship with the university, and/or your professors going forward. As aparente001 said, "Some universities make more of a thing of graduation than others, so depending on the vibes at your school ..." Commented May 28, 2017 at 22:32
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – eykanal
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 12:55
  • Please elaborate to justify your claim that it is better to stay away than go and be uncomfortable. There are down-sides to not going, and it may end up making OP uncomfortable/regretful later on.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 15:45
  • @einpoklum - Please head over to chat, if you don't mind: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/59547/… Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 22:54

From the point of view of a faculty at a mid-size university: I honestly do not care if students walk or not. Any kind of personal congratulation or communication I want to have with outgoing students I do on my own time. I'm not going to keep track of any particular student (or count on being able to find such a person) at a graduation event. This might be different if you go to a much smaller university.

However, graduation ceremonies are often much more for the people outside of the university rather than inside. Parents, relatives, and friends are probably much more excited to see you walk across the stage than you are, and definitely more excited than your professors are. I'd check with them before eschewing graduation before I'd check with professors.


The institution itself is pretty unlikely to care. INTJ's a pretty common personality type in your major's field, so many of your instructors and peers probably feel the same way.

Consider your family

The one big consideration to make is your family. Depending on your family status and family members' inclinations, they might be the sort that's sacrificed a lot to help support you through your education and want to see you graduate.

If you think about it, a lot of ceremonies are more about the family than the honoree (e.g., baby showers, infants' birthday parties, and funerals). Some parents take great pride in boasting of having just gotten back from their child's graduation, giving them another excuse to brag about all of their child's accomplishments. Gotta love parents!

But, every family's different. Even if you have a very loving family who are highly invested in both you and your education, they may feel the same way that you do about such events. So, that consideration'll depend on personal factors.

Let your classmates know

Graduations have a lot of downtime in which students stand around. And what do you discuss? Your plans, career goals, exchange contact info, etc.; networking with your peers has become part of the ritual.

While it's true that your peers could just look up your email address later, many prefer to do their networking at graduation - either because they planned it that way or because the ceremony of it all calls attention to the fact that you won't be seeing each other anymore.

If you're going to skip the graduation, you can make up for it by getting this networking down in advance. Letting your classmates know helps signal that it's time to say goodbyes or/and exchange contact info.

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    You haven't read it whole. The family will be at another graduation.
    – robinj
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 8:34
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    @robinj - In this instance, the family will be at another graduation; however, I think the "Consider your family" mantra is excellent advice for the question in general.
    – J.R.
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 20:24
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    @robinj More about what J.R. said. This is, I kinda doubt that everyone here has put in their time to help with this one particular poster's question; rather, we're generating answers on the general topic for future readers.
    – Nat
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 4:48

By all means do what you feel is best for you, but please don't typecast yourself based on the result you got from a Myers-Briggs test. It's more insulting to academia to perpetuate that pseudoscience than to not attend your convocation.

Please don't claim to require logical reasoning for things when your basis for not attending isn't based on logical reasoning. Personality is extremely fluid and you are shorting yourself on a rare experience because of an apparent huff with 'tradition'.

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    The OP should not only not typecast himself, he also shouldn't bother to tell others. Nobody he works with (or befriends) is going to want to hear him brag about being an INTJ or make excuses for not doing things because he's an INTJ or know about it for any other reason either. He should just forget about Myers-Briggs and get on with his life (as you suggest).
    – davidbak
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 3:09
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    Funny - I didn't really see the OP as "bragging," "self-typecasting," or using the results of a personality test as an "excuse" for not attending. I viewed it simply as a brief way to offer a little insight into the OP's typical way of thinking. In other words, it's not: "I'm an INTJ; ergo, I shouldn't attend." Rather, it's more like: "I'm not a big fan of these celebrations – I'm an INTJ, if that helps shed any light."
    – J.R.
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 20:46
  • THIS! (and I'm an INTJ). If you don't want to go, you don't want to go. Nobody needs to know or care what specific aspects of your personality inform your personal utility function by which you decide that cost/benefit ratio of attending is less than that of not attending. Also, as INTJ, I assume you spent the effort reading the literature about fulfillment and that "new experiences" are pretty much what makes people most happy? This is one of them "experiences", which long term will make you more happy than marginal benefit of 4 extra hours of D&D :)
    – DVK
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 13:56

INTJ personality type

You may view it as an extended training scenario! Do it, or learn to do it, and then do it. You feeling comfortable is not the primary function of this tradition.

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    Let me play devil's advocate for a second: What is the primary logical function of this tradition? Why should this tradition not be abolished? (I did participate in my high school graduation and have done presentations and such, so I know I can overcome uneasiness with being on stage or the center of attention).
    – Azendale
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 17:47
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    @Azendale Graduation traces its history back to the guild system where public ceremonies were how the guild let people know that you were an accepted member of the guild at a given level. In a lot of cases, there is also legal language at the commencement in which the degrees are actually conferred. As for why it shouldn't be abolished: it's kind of like wedding ceremony, you don't need it to be married (just sign the paperwork), but people like to mark major milestones in their lives with significant events.
    – anonymous
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 18:28
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    @Azendale In a strictly logical view, it's a show (a) what the institution "can do", and (b) what individuals can achieve. Regarding (a): It's rewarding to teachers to see that some succeed, even if your progress is at most in part a consequence of their training. But this will nourish their ambition to improve (or, not to let up in their efforts). Which is to the benefit of all. Regarding (b): And while doing this, if you can smile proudly at the ceremony, you might even instill some motivation to the younger ones. Which in the long run would be to the benefit of all, too.
    – jvb
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 18:37
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    INTJ's usually have absolutely no problem being on stage. In fact, they enjoy it. I'd recommend attending the ceremony and going through the internet on how to overcome stage fear. Being in front of people and being on stage is a big part of life you need to learn.
    – Nav
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 6:25
  • learn to to it -> learn to do it. I hope I got that right. If I didn't please revert, and apologies. Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 13:17

For a more generic case: check with your university's graduation department or equivalent.

Other answers here are answering specifically to the US, but that does not apply to every country and institution. Here in Brazil I was obligated to participate in the ceremony, otherwise I would get no diploma, and enter a "hiatus" state instead of "graduated".

  • This. I didn't want to attend my (US) graduation but I had to because they wouldn't award me my diploma otherwise.
    – Roddy
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 16:01

Your discomfort or disinterest in these events is something you'd better start getting used to : in real life (just starting, as it were) you're going to be required to attend all sort of proceedings which have little or no immediate practical purpose but are absolutely required for social, networking and simply to demonstrate you're part of a team.

So, without being insulting, just forget about your own feelings and do it. At the very minimum, it's your duty to do do.

It's also probably the one graduation ceremony you'll get the opportunity to attend, and I see no reason in avoiding it unless pressing business calls you elsewhere. So go and maybe, just maybe, it will be part of a small pleasant memory for the years to come.

Think you're an INTJ do ya ? Well it's time to start factoring in the social and human needs of the world around you, not just yourself. Successful people - all of them - know how to do this. You're starting off badly by assuming the graduation ceremony is of no importance just because it's of no importance to you.

I have a 4.0 GPA at this institution

Not at life. You appear to have a really low score at life. Honestly you give the impression of someone who thinks of themselves as above everyone else. Maybe it's only an impression and not the real you, but you need to learn to communicate and support other people, not just yourself.

Soft skills. You need them.

Be there and spend the day thanking people for everything they did. If you can't see the value of the human value in doing this, try the cynical, excuse me, logical one, that these are skills that will benefit you in the long run.

I am thinking of writing thank you cards to the teachers and mentors who were influential in helping me get to this point.

A smile and a handshake and some words face-to-face would do a much better job and make better friends than a card. And not just the teachers and mentors, the librarians, lunch counter staff, porters and admin people. If they're not there on the day, the send them cards. A heck of a lot of people worked hard to get you to graduation.

Learn to see the big picture.

For the outstanding scholar award, they will be giving me a certificate and honor cords at an awards banquet that is before graduation. Does that imply they expect me to walk? Is it an insult to not do so when they are giving me an award?

In my view this makes it your duty to attend, and being outstanding or a leader of any kind requires you (if possible) to demonstrate that you appreciate the honor and want to show your gratitude and congratulate your classmates on their achievements.

Leadership is about other people, not about yourself. Want to be a good leader ? Learn to factor them in as a first concern and yourself second.

Start learning to look at the world this way. Treat the ceremony as a first step in learning to develop to leadership skills and soft skills you're going to need and, more importantly, the people who you end up trying to lead need you to have.

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    For someone preaching the importance of soft skills, your answer sure lacks them. It is borderline rude, as it focuses more on criticizing OP for having a dislike for ceremonies than on giving advice in good faith. Commented May 29, 2017 at 14:40
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    Another side note: "A heck of a lot of people worked hard to get you to graduation." - No, a heck of a lot of people worked hard to do their job and OP worked hard to get to graduation. There is a difference (e.g. lunch was served before OP enrolled and will be served after they leave, it would even be served if OP never attended the university). The people who put in extra effort for OP personally were probably thanked on other occasions. If not, that is a separate issue. Commented May 29, 2017 at 14:44
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    Soft skills does not mean being artificially polite to people, it means being human where possible and seeing their point of view. But as someone show is themselves extremely shy I can also say, with certainty, that the OP needs a kick-in-the-pants type answer, IMO, not to be hugged and babied. And I feel the OP thinks they are special as opposed to lucky. That needs addressing by the OP or they'll simply come across as arrogant. As for the people "doing their jobs", well that's a cynical attitude and says more about you than me. Commented May 29, 2017 at 15:18
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    OP "is special as opposed to lucky" and I have a "cynical attitude". How do you come by those conclusions? Ad hominem attacks contribute nothing to the discussion and only weaken your arguments. Whatever point you are trying to make, you'll have a lot more success, if you keep to the facts without judging people. Note that I don't dispute your point of view (it is irrelevant whether or not I agree with it), I'm criticizing your way of communicating it. Commented May 30, 2017 at 7:54
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    This answer is total nonsense. It's your education. You paid for it. You got your diploma. You have no reason to walk if you don't want to. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's certainly not your duty in any way, shape, or form.
    – user428517
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 17:51

Your hard-work is the respect you gave to your university and your teachers.

Whether you are around to let them put feathers on your cap isnt important - you can always excuse yourself with a polite letter.


In the corporate work environment it is quite common for things to not really be entirely optional. A regional term I've familiar with is "business optional," but your supervisor might say something like "[person] is going to be at this event and you should meet them," or a mentor might tell you "this will be good for your career." All of these are effectively code meaning that even though nobody is going to force you to show up, it behooves you to show up. Usually this is something that comes up for holiday parties but it's not just limited to those.

The reason that I mention this is because commencement ceremonies operate the same way. If are recognized by the university in some way (i.e., Outstanding Scholar) then you are pretty much in a "business optional" situation. Likewise, I've always heard that if you are being hooded and your advisor can make it to graduation, you better be there as well.

The good news is that, baring people on stage, commencement is a lot of sitting in the crowd not standing out. You are only on stage for a minute, tops, and it is over quickly. You also have a really good excuse not to go: your sister is graduating the same day and your family can't make it to both. You should inform people in your department. Usually there is a departmental celebration and you can let them know then. I doubt anyone will hold it against you under those circumstances.

  • Could you share a couple of links showing the use of the phrase "business optional"? I wasn't familiar with this, so I googled it, and I'm not finding anything useful. Thanks. Commented May 31, 2017 at 2:12
  • @aparente001 I compared notes with my coworkers in the break room and apparently it must be a regional colloquialism. Once I explained what I meant everyone one knew what I was talking about but everyone had a wordier way of saying it.
    – anonymous
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 13:33
  • Interesting. If you want to share your region, it would be more interesting still. Maybe it's an extension of the concept of "business casual" clothing, where you try to strike a happy balance between formal business attire and something more casual. Commented May 31, 2017 at 15:24
  • @aparente001 I'm not sure business casual is the best mapping of the concept and I'd be surprised if you hadn't come across the same thing in academia yet either. It's basically the same things as a TT professor hearing the "suggestion" that they should look into doing more service work for their tenure package.
    – anonymous
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 17:09
  • That was a helpful explanation, thanks. I have posted a question at ELU: english.stackexchange.com/q/391911/112436 Commented May 31, 2017 at 17:43

They cannot make you walk, that said, they might be hoping you do. It sounds like the ceremony is prior to graduation, so there may not be any additional reason for you to walk. That said, it would be best to ask. That said, for many graduations, people do not get called up on stage. Those that do call people by name, the appearance is brief.


Take a big breath, ignore the crowd and just go up there and accept the award. Once you start the walk to the stage you can ignore everything else.

Like you, going to the ceremony was something I never wanted to do, but accepting an Academic Medal for Excellence is something that will only happen once in my lifetime. As a bonus I'll have the photos forever.

Likewise, accepting the Dux award was at another ceremony, but I'm glad I went.

I am sure that thank you letters are always welcome, irrespective of whether or not you attended the ceremony.

So, IMHO, it's not an insult to the university if you don't go, it would just a shame for you to miss out on that special moment and associated photo opportunity.

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    The person who asked the question has clear and obvious reasons to not even be in the same city as the graduation ceremony, let alone attending it or going on stage. It's not a simple case of stage fright. They have also explicitly stated that they're not interested in tradition for its own sake; this is not a special moment or a special photo opportunity for them. As such, this is not an answer to the question.
    – Nij
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 5:55

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